Should You Freeze Tuna Salad?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spent an average of 55.2 minutes commuting to and from work in 2019. That's 276 minutes — close to five hours — per week! That must mean remote workers have an easier time, right? Well, reports that the average worker spends up to 21 hours in meetings weekly. So what do you do on those nights when you're starving, but you "can't even" because you endured a miserable commute home or are suffering from Zoom fatigue?

With just a few ingredients, you can throw together a homemade tuna salad sandwich for a quick dinner — or add some grapes for a tangy, sweet dish reminiscent of chicken salad. And yet, there are times when even cracking open a can of tuna and chopping some celery is too much. What if you could freeze containers of tuna salad to eat at your convenience?

Canned tuna has a long shelf life, so stock up your pantry. But once prepared, tuna salad stays fresh for up to five days when stored in the fridge — and it doesn't fare much better when stored in the freezer.

Tuna salad can be kept in the freezer for up to one week

To freeze tuna salad, simply store it in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. If using a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn. If you're storing it in regular plastic containers, secure the lid with freezer tape to keep the air out. Be sure to not fill the containers too full because the tuna salad will expand as it freezes (via Our Everyday Life).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food stored at 0 F will be safe to eat "almost indefinitely" because freezing slows the growth of bacteria that causes spoilage and foodborne illnesses. However, the longer the food remains frozen, the more its quality degrades.

If you're going to freeze tuna salad for longer than a week, get ready for a container of grossness once it's thawed. Mayonnaise separates when it freezes due to its oil content, leaving you with an oily, mushy mess. No amount of stirring will blend it back into the tuna. And if there's celery in the salad, expect it to become soggy (via Prepared Cooks).

Make tuna salad freezer-friendly by swapping ingredients

According to Foods Guy, Miracle Whip has a lower oil content than standard mayo, which will prevent separation when thawed. This means it can serve as a mayonnaise substitute when making tuna salad you're planning on freezing. Your taste buds may be in for a shock, though, as there will be a sweeter taste due to the "significant levels" of high-fructose corn syrup in the spread. If you're not a fan of Miracle Whip, make your tuna salad with less mayonnaise before freezing it and add more after thawing.

To avoid limp celery, switch it with relish or chopped dill pickles. What you lose in crunch, you'll gain in flavor.

Canned tuna is fairly healthy; it's a lean protein low in saturated fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. But depending on the type, tuna can contain high levels of mercury, so it's best to eat it in moderation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends two to three servings of fish per week and to choose tuna such as skipjack and albacore, which has lower levels of mercury.